Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers are a professional ice hockey team based in Edmonton, Alberta. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Edmonton Oilers
2019–20 Edmonton Oilers season
HistoryAlberta Oilers
1972–1973 (WHA)
Edmonton Oilers
19731979 (WHA)
1979–present (NHL)
Home arenaRogers Place
CityEdmonton, Alberta
ColoursOrange, navy blue, white[1][2][3]
MediaSportsnet West
Sportsnet Oilers
Citytv Edmonton
CHED (630 AM)
Owner(s)Oilers Entertainment Group
(Daryl Katz, Katz Group of Companies)
General managerKen Holland
Head coachDave Tippett
CaptainConnor McDavid
Minor league affiliatesBakersfield Condors (AHL)
Wichita Thunder (ECHL)
Stanley Cups5 (1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1989–90)
Conference championships7 (1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1989–90, 2005–06)
Presidents' Trophy2 (1985–86, 1986–87)
Division championships9 (1978–79 (WHA), 1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1991–92)
Official websitenhl.com/oilers

The Oilers were officially founded in 1971 by W. D. "Wild Bill" Hunter and Dr. Chuck Allard. The team played its first season in 1972, as one of the twelve founding franchises of the major professional World Hockey Association (WHA). They were originally intended to be one of two WHA Alberta teams, along with the Calgary Broncos. However, when the Broncos relocated to Cleveland, Ohio, before the WHA's first season began, the Oilers were renamed the Alberta Oilers. They returned to their current name in the following year, and subsequently joined the NHL in 1979 as one of four franchises absorbed through the NHL merger with the WHA.

After joining the NHL, the Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup on five occasions: 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88 and 1989–90. Along with the Pittsburgh Penguins, they are tied for the most championships won by any team since the NHL-WHA merger and also the most won by any team that joined the league in or after 1967. Among all NHL teams, only the Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup more times since the League's 1967 expansion. For their success in the 1980s, the Oilers team of this era has been honoured with dynasty status by the Hockey Hall of Fame.[4]

However, the Oilers began to struggle greatly shortly after the 2004–05 NHL lockout, having missed the playoffs every year since 2006, with the exception of 2016–17. The Oilers have drafted 12 first round selections since 2007, 10 of which were within the first 10 draft choices overall, 6 of those picks were within the first 4 picks overall, and 4 of those 6 were first overall selections. In the NHL Entry Draft, Edmonton selected first overall Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Connor McDavid with those picks; only McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins remain with the Oilers today.

The Oilers are one of two NHL franchises based in Alberta; the other being the Calgary Flames. Their close proximity to each other has led to a fierce rivalry known as the "Battle of Alberta".


WHA years (1972–1979)

On November 1, 1971, the Edmonton Oilers became 1 of the 12 founding WHA franchises. The original owners were "Wild Bill" Hunter and partner, Dr. Charles A. "Chuck" Allard (1919 – 1991)[5] (father of Vancouver, Canada attorney Peter Allard)[6] who, a decade later, also brought the SCTV sketch comedy TV series to Edmonton.[7] Hunter also owned the Edmonton Oil Kings, a junior hockey franchise,[8] and founded the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (now known as the Western Hockey League (WHL)).[8] Hunter's efforts to bring major professional hockey to Edmonton via an expansion NHL franchise had been rebuffed by the NHL. So, he looked to the upstart WHA instead. It was Hunter who chose the "Oilers" name for the new WHA franchise. This was a name that had previously been used as a nickname for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 1950s and 1960s.[9] Hunter also served as head coach during the 1972–73, 1974–75, and 1975–76 seasons, and the Oilers' mascot, Hunter, is named in his honour.

After the newly founded Calgary Broncos folded prior to commencement of the inaugural WHA season, the Oilers were renamed the Alberta Oilers as it was planned to split their home games between Edmonton and Calgary. Possibly for financial reasons or to allow for a less complicated return of the WHA to Calgary, though, the team ultimately played all of its home games in the Edmonton Gardens and changed its name back to the Edmonton Oilers the following year.[10] They won the first game in WHA history 7–4 over the Ottawa Nationals.[11]

The Oilers drew fans with players such as defenceman and team captain Al Hamilton, goaltender Dave Dryden and forwards Blair MacDonald and Bill Flett. However, a relatively little-noticed move in 1976 would have an important impact on the history of the franchise. That year, journeyman forward Glen Sather was acquired by the Oilers.[12] It turned out to be his final season as a player and was named player-coach late in the season, moving to the bench full-time after the season. Sather would be the coach or general manager of the Oilers for the next 23 years.[13]

Although the Oilers' on-ice performance for most of the WHA's history was mediocre, they remained relatively well-supported and financially stable by WHA standards. In 1976, Hunter and Allard sold the franchise to Vancouver real estate tycoon Nelson Skalbania, who would become notorious for flipping property, both real and franchised.[14] Skalbania soon made local businessman Peter Pocklington a full partner, then sold his shares to him the following year. The team's fortunes improved dramatically in 1978 when Pocklington acquired underage player Wayne Gretzky,[15] as well as goaltender Eddie Mio and forward Peter Driscoll, for cash, from Skalbania's recently folded Indianapolis Racers.[16]

His first year of WHA experience prevented Gretzky from being an official 1979–80 NHL rookie); his first and only WHA season, 1978–79, saw the Oilers finish first in the WHA standings, posting a league-best 48–30–2 record.[17] However, Edmonton failed to win the championship, as they fell to the Winnipeg Jets in the Avco World Trophy Final. Dave Semenko of the Oilers scored the last goal in WHA history in the third period of the final game, which they lost 7–3.[18]

The Oilers joined the NHL for 1979–80, along with fellow WHA teams Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and the Jets following a merger agreement between the two leagues. Of these four teams, only Edmonton has avoided relocation and renaming; the Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche in 1995, the Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996 and the Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997.[19]

Entry into the NHL (1979–1983)

The Oilers lost most of the players from 1978–79 when the NHL held a reclamation draft of players who had bolted to the upstart league as they were allowed to protect two goaltenders and two skill players.[20] Originally, Gretzky was not eligible to be protected; under the rules of the time, he normally would have been placed in the Entry Draft pool. However, Pocklington had signed him to a 21-year personal services contract in 1979 and Pocklington used the contract to force the NHL to admit the Oilers and allow the Oilers to keep Gretzky.[21]

Upon joining the NHL, the Oilers were placed in the Campbell Conference's Smythe Division. They were mediocre during the regular season in their first two seasons, finishing sixteenth and fourteenth respectively. However, due to the fact 16 of the 21 NHL teams made the playoffs at the time, the Oilers were still able to get their young players experience in the playoffs (they would make the playoffs for their first 13 years in the NHL).[22] They won only one playoff series in their first three NHL seasons, though, upsetting the Montreal Canadiens in 1980–81. Gretzky set new NHL records in 1980–81 for assists (109)[23] and points (164).[24] Also, they still had great draft positions. This allowed the Oilers to put together a young, talented, experienced team quickly. Within three years, Sather and chief scout Barry Fraser had drafted several players who would have an important role in the team's success, including Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog.[25]

The Oilers improved in 1981–82, finishing second overall. Grant Fuhr emerged as the starting goaltender, and he set a rookie record by going undefeated in 23 straight games.[26] However, Gretzky stole the show by setting the single season record for goals with 92[27] and becoming the first player in NHL history to score 200 points (with 212).[24] Gretzky's accomplishments helped the Oilers become the first team to score 400 goals in a season, a feat they would accomplish for five straight years.[28] However, they were upset by the Los Angeles Kings in five games (game three of this series, now known as the Miracle on Manchester, saw the Oilers take a 5–0 lead into the third period, only to lose 6–5 to the Kings in overtime).[29][30]

In 1982–83, the Oilers finished third overall in the NHL. They advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals (losing only once in the process) before getting swept by defending Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders.[31] During this season, Gretzky, Messier, Anderson and Kurri all topped the 100-point plateau, with Coffey not far behind at 96.[31] After the season, Lee Fogolin resigned as captain of the Oilers, picking Gretzky as his successor.[32]

Dynasty years (1983–1990)

In 1983–84, the Oilers finished first overall in the NHL, winning a franchise record 57 games and earning 119 points (15 points ahead of the second-place Islanders). They were the first team to feature three players with 50 goals (Gretzky, Kurri and Anderson).[33] Gretzky started off strong by scoring at least a point in the first 51 games of the season.[34] Paul Coffey became the second defenceman ever to score forty goals in a season (with forty exactly).[35] The team scored a grand total of 446 goals as a team, an NHL record.[36] The Oilers were so determined to win the Stanley Cup that they hired Roger Neilson as a video analyst.[37] They started the playoffs strongly by sweeping the Winnipeg Jets in the Smythe Division semifinals. They faced a tougher test in the Calgary Flames, but they defeated them in seven games in the division finals. They then swept the Minnesota North Stars in the conference finals to earn a rematch with the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Oilers split the first two games in Long Island, but then won three in a row in Edmonton to become the first former WHA team to win the Stanley Cup. After the series, Mark Messier was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.[38]

The following season, the Oilers finished second overall in the NHL with 49 wins and 109 points. Gretzky led the NHL in goals with 73,[39] and Kurri was close behind with a career high 71.[40] Gretzky also became the youngest player in NHL history to score one thousand points.[41] In the playoffs, the Oilers swept the Kings in the opening round and Jets in round two. They won the first two games of the Campbell Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, but lost the next two before winning the final two and returning to the Stanley Cup Finals. Edmonton lost the first game to Philadelphia, but won the next four to win the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row. Paul Coffey had a playoff performance to remember, setting records for most goals (12), assists (25) and points (37) ever by a defenceman in a playoff year.[42] In addition, Jari Kurri tied Reggie Leach's record for most goals in a playoff year, with 19.[43] However, Gretzky won the Conn Smythe Trophy after setting the record for most points in a playoff year (47).[44] The 1984–85 Oilers would be voted as the greatest NHL team of all-time during the league's centennial celebrations in 2017.[45]

Despite some off-season legal issues,[38] the Oilers were again the top team in the NHL during the 1985–86 season, with 56 wins and 119 points. They won the inaugural Presidents' Trophy, the trophy given to the team with the best regular season record. Gretzky, Kurri and Anderson each scored 50 goals again.[33] Kurri led the NHL in goals with 68, finishing with 131 points. Paul Coffey set a new record for most goals in a season by a defenceman (48), and he just missed setting a new record for points by a defenceman with 138 (Bobby Orr scored 139 in 1970–71).[46][47] Gretzky also set records for assists (163) and points (215).[34] However, the Oilers failed to win their third straight Stanley Cup, as the Calgary Flames defeated them in seven games in the second round of the playoffs. In the third period of a 2–2 tie during Game 7, Steve Smith, a rookie for the Oilers, accidentally sent the puck into his own net on his birthday. This goal stood as the game-and-series-winning goal.[48]

1986–87 saw the Oilers capture their second straight Presidents' Trophy with 50 wins and 106 points. Gretzky and Kurri were first and second in the NHL point scoring race, while Messier was fourth.[49] Edmonton returned to the Stanley Cup Final and faced the same opponent as they had in 1985, the Philadelphia Flyers. The Oilers took a three games to one lead in the series. However, strong goaltending by Flyers' rookie Ron Hextall forced a Game 7, which the Oilers ultimately won, 3–1. In the post-game celebration, Gretzky immediately passed the Stanley Cup to Steve Smith, now vindicated after his costly miscue the previous season.[50] However, Hextall won the Conn Smythe Trophy.[51]

The Oilers began losing star players in 1987–88. Paul Coffey sat out the first 21 games of the season before getting traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.[52] Andy Moog also failed to report; he was tired of being the backup goalie. Moog played for the Canadian Olympic team in the 1988 Winter Olympics before getting traded to the Boston Bruins for Bill Ranford.[53] Despite the changes, the Oilers placed third overall in the NHL. Grant Fuhr started a league-record 75 games (which has now been broken)[54] and posted a team-record 40 wins.[55] In the first round of the playoffs, the Oilers dispatched the third place Winnipeg Jets in five games. The Oilers then defeated first-overall Calgary in a sweep. In the Campbell Conference Final against the Detroit Red Wings, the Oilers prevailed in five games. The Oilers then swept the Boston Bruins in five games in a best-of-seven series. This occurred because of trouble during game four. With the score tied 3–3 with 3:23 to play in the second period, a power outage hit the Boston Garden, forcing cancellation of the entire game. The Oilers would win the next game (originally scheduled as game five) back in Edmonton 6–3 to complete the series sweep. However, all player statistics for the aborted game four in Boston are counted in the NHL record books. Gretzky won the Conn Smythe Trophy after leading the playoffs in scoring with 43 points. After the Cup-clinching game, Gretzky implored his teammates, coaches, trainers and others from the Oilers organization to join at centre ice for an impromptu team photo with the Stanley Cup. This started a tradition since continued by every subsequent Stanley Cup champion.[56] After the season, Fuhr was awarded the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender.[57]

After Gretzky (1988–1990)

In a surprising and shocking trade, Gretzky, along with enforcer Marty McSorley and centre Mike Krushelnyski, were traded to the Los Angeles Kings on August 9, 1988. In exchange, the Oilers received US$15 million, young star Jimmy Carson, 1988 first-round draft choice Martin Gelinas and the Kings' first round draft picks in 1989, 1991 and 1993. The trade occurred because Pocklington did not want to risk Gretzky leaving Edmonton without getting anything in return. Gretzky had converted his personal services contract with Pocklington into a standard five-year player's contract with the Oilers in the summer of 1987 with an option to declare himself an unrestricted free agent after the 1988–89 season. During the 1987–88 season, Pocklington had approached Gretzky about renegotiating the contract, but Gretzky, unwilling to give up his chance at free agency, refused, which ultimately led to the trade. None of this was public knowledge at the time.[58] However, the Oilers and their fans were still upset. Nelson Riis, the New Democratic Party leader in Canada's House of Commons, went so far as to ask the government to block the trade.[59] Several of the Oilers considered launching a team-wide strike, and even considered demanding that Pocklington sell the team.[60]

The loss of Gretzky had an immediate impact in 1988–89, as the Oilers were only able to finish in third place in their division. Mark Messier was chosen to succeed Gretzky as captain.[61] Coincidentally, the Oilers' first round playoff opponent was Gretzky's Los Angeles Kings. Edmonton took a commanding 3–1 series lead, but Gretzky and the Kings fought back to win Game 7 6–3 in Los Angeles. It was the first time since 1982 the Oilers had been eliminated from the playoffs after only one round.

The Oilers underwent more changes during the 1989–90 season. John Muckler replaced Sather, who remained general manager and became the Oilers' president, as head coach of the team.[62] During training camp, Grant Fuhr came down with a severe case of appendicitis. He missed the first ten games of the season, and when he returned he suffered a shoulder injury that eventually sidelined him for the remainder of the season.[26] This marked the emergence of Bill Ranford as a starter. Four games into the season, Jimmy Carson decided the pressure of playing in Edmonton was too intense, and he was traded to Detroit with Kevin McClelland in exchange for Petr Klima, Adam Graves, Joe Murphy and Jeff Sharples.[63] The Oilers improved on their previous season, finishing with 38 wins and 90 points, good for fifth place overall in the NHL. Messier had 45 goals and 84 assists for 129 points, good for second in the NHL scoring race (behind only Gretzky).[64]

In the first round, the Oilers faced the Winnipeg Jets. Trailing the series 3–1 and trailing Game 5 by the identical score, the Oilers rallied to win the next three and take the series. In the division final, the Oilers met Los Angeles for the second-straight season. Edmonton swept the series 4–0, outscoring the Kings 22–10. The Oilers then met the Chicago Blackhawks in the Campbell Conference Final and fell behind 2–1 in the series. However, the Oilers won the next three games to earn a rematch of the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals with Boston. The Final will be remembered for Game 1, which still stands as the longest Stanley Cup Final game played in the modern NHL. Despite being soundly outshot by the Bruins, the Oilers won the game 3–2 when Petr Klima—benched for much of the game, and thus the only player on either team who not exhausted—scored at 15:13 of the third overtime period.[65] The Oilers would go on to defeat the Bruins in five games, and win their first Cup without Gretzky. For his superlative goaltending, Bill Ranford was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.[66]

Decline in success (1990–1996)

The Oilers lost another important player before the 1990–91 season, as Jari Kurri chose to play the entire season with Devils Milano. Grant Fuhr was also suspended for 60 games for drug abuse.[67] The season itself was not a great one for the Oilers: they finished with 37 wins and 80 points, good for third place in the Smythe Division. In the playoffs, the Oilers met the Flames in the opening round. In a thrilling series, the Oilers won the series in seven games, led by seven goals by Esa Tikkanen. Despite injuries suffered in the series with Calgary, they defeated the Los Angeles Kings in six games. However, their success was unable to continue into the Conference Final, as they lost in five games to the Minnesota North Stars, who were making their Cinderella run.

The final star players from the Oilers left before the 1991–92 season. Grant Fuhr and Glenn Anderson were traded to Toronto,[68] Steve Smith was traded to Chicago,[69] and Jari Kurri was traded to Philadelphia.[70] Charlie Huddy was claimed by Minnesota in the expansion draft,[71] and Mark Messier was traded to the New York Rangers a day after the season began.[72] The Oilers even lost their head coach, as John Muckler left to become head coach and general manager of the Buffalo Sabres.[62] Ted Green replaced Muckler as head coach,[73] and Kevin Lowe succeeded Messier as captain.[74]

Despite the number of changes, the Oilers produced a comparable season to 1990–91, finishing third in the Smythe Division with 36 wins and 82 points. In the first round of the playoffs, the Oilers again met the Los Angeles Kings. Again, for the third time since the Gretzky trade, the Oilers defeated the Kings. In the next round, the Oilers defeated the Vancouver Canucks in six games to return to the Campbell Conference Final for the third straight season, this time facing the Chicago Blackhawks. However, the Oilers unexpected run in the playoffs came to a crashing halt, as the Blackhawks dominated every game and swept the series.

The departures of the stars from the 1980s exposed serious deficiencies in the Oilers' development system. They had done a poor job of drafting during the dynasty years,[25] and the younger players have not had enough time to develop before the core of the 1980s dynasty left the team. This did not become apparent for a few years; as noted above, the Oilers still had enough heft to make the conference finals two years in a row. However, it was obvious that they were nowhere near being the powerhouse that had dominated the league in the previous half-decade. In 1992–93, they missed the playoffs for the first time as an NHL team. They would not return to the postseason for four years, despite the emergence of young centremen Doug Weight and Jason Arnott. In the 1993–94 season, the Oilers were placed into the Western Conference's Pacific Division.

Return to the playoffs and Cup Final appearance (1996–2006)

In 1996–97, the Oilers made the playoffs for the first time in five years, thanks to stellar goaltending by Curtis Joseph. In the first round, they upset the Dallas Stars, who had compiled the league's second best record, in a seven-game series. The Oilers won game seven on a goal by Todd Marchant in overtime. However, the Oilers surprise playoff run failed to continue, as the Colorado Avalanche defeated them in the next round. In 1997–98, Joseph led the Oilers to another first-round upset. After Colorado took a 3–1 series lead, the Oilers held them scoreless for eight straight periods en route to winning the series in seven games. Dallas and Edmonton met again in the second round, but this time, the Stars were the victors. The Oilers would make the playoffs in four of the next six years, but they were defeated after the first round every single time.

Despite their success over the past two seasons, the Oilers were in trouble off the ice. Owner Peter Pocklington had explored moving the Oilers to Minnesota during the 1990s. In 1998, Pocklington almost made a deal to sell the team to Leslie Alexander, the owner of the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA), who would have moved the team to Houston, Texas. On March 14, 1998, hours before the deadline to keep the team in Edmonton, the Edmonton Investors Group agreed to pay $70 million to buy the club.[75] The EIG were spearheaded by Cal Nichols, who had a commitment to retain NHL hockey in Edmonton. The deal was finalized, on May 5.[76] and thus prevented them from being the third Canadian team to move in the 1990s and the fourth former WHA team to move in successive years (Quebec had moved in 1995, Winnipeg in 1996 and Hartford in 1997). The Oilers received support from the NHL for this very reason.[77][78] In the 1998–99 season, the Oilers joined the Western Conference's Northwest Division.

On November 22, 2003, the Oilers hosted the 2003 Heritage Classic, the first regular season outdoor hockey game in the NHL's history and part of the celebrations of the Oilers' 25th season in the NHL. They were defeated by the Montreal Canadiens 4–3 in front of more than 55,000 fans, an NHL attendance record, at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. The Oilers would fail to make the playoffs in the 2003–04 season.

The Oilers struggled with their small-market status for several years, but after the wiped-out 2004–05 season, they were aided by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NHL owners and players. This included a league-wide salary cap that essentially forced all teams to conform to a budget, as the Oilers had been doing for years.[79] A more reasonable conversion rate of Canadian dollar revenues to US dollar payroll in the new millennium also helped the Oilers to return to profitability.[77] Because of this, Edmonton was able to acquire Chris Pronger (former winner of the Hart and Norris Trophies)[80] and Michael Peca (two-time Frank J. Selke Trophy winner)[81] before the 2005–06 season.[82][83]

The team suffered from inconsistency during the first few months of the regular season, especially in goal and on offence. Goaltenders Ty Conklin and Jussi Markkanen were unreliable in net, and Peca also struggled with offence.[83][84][85] However, in-season acquisitions, such as defencemen Jaroslav Spacek[86] and Dick Tarnstrom,[87] goaltender Dwayne Roloson and left winger Sergei Samsonov,[88] helped Edmonton finish the regular season with 95 points and clinch the final playoff spot in the Western Conference over Vancouver.[89]

In the first round of the playoffs, the Oilers played the Detroit Red Wings (winners of the Presidents' Trophy).[90] Despite Detroit's much better regular season record, the Oilers pulled off a six-game upset for their first playoff series win since 1998.[22] Edmonton then met the San Jose Sharks in the Conference Semifinals. After trailing the series two games to none, the team won the next four and became the first eighth-seeded team to reach a Conference Final since the NHL changed the playoff format in 1994.[91] There, the Oilers would beat the sixth-seeded Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in five games, claiming the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl for a seventh time.

In the Stanley Cup Final, Edmonton met the Carolina Hurricanes. During Game 1, the Oilers blew a 3–0 lead, lost Dwayne Roloson for the series after he suffered a knee injury, and ultimately lost 5–4 when Carolina's captain Rod Brind'Amour scored after backup goalie Ty Conklin misplayed the puck. From that game forward, the Oilers used Jussi Markkanen in net.[92] Despite trailing the series 2–0 and 3–1, the Oilers forced a Game 7 with a 2–1 win in Game 3, a Fernando Pisani short-handed overtime winner in Game 5 and a 4–0 shutout for Markkanen in Game 6. However, the Oilers could not complete the comeback as the Hurricanes won Game 7 3–1 to capture their first-ever Stanley Cup.[93]

Collapse and ten-year playoff drought (2006–2015)

During the 2006 off-season, many Oilers left the team. Four days after their loss to the Hurricanes, Chris Pronger surprisingly issued a trade request for personal reasons. Pronger was subsequently traded to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid and three draft picks.[94] Several Oilers left via free agency and during the season, long-time Oiler Ryan Smyth was traded to the New York Islanders for Ryan O'Marra, Robert Nilsson and a first-round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft (used to select Alex Plante).[95] However, the Oilers were able to re-sign Dwayne Roloson and Fernando Pisani. Having lost so many players, the Oilers posted a 32–43–7 record in 2006–07, their worst record since the 1995–96 season, and eventually finished in 11th place in the Western Conference. Throughout the season, the Oilers lost various players to injury and illness; at one point, they had 11 players out of the line-up and had to rely on emergency call-ups to fill their roster.[96]

In 2007–08, the Oilers had a 16–21–4 record after the first half of the season. They improved in the second half of the year, however, going 25–14–2 in 41 games for a final record of 41–35–6. Nonetheless, this was not enough to qualify for the playoffs, as the Oilers finished three points out in ninth place. During the season, Daryl Katz, owner of the Rexall pharmaceutical company, purchased the team from the Edmonton Investors Group.[97] The Oilers announced a restructuring of their hockey operations on July 30, 2008, which saw the promotion of Kevin Lowe to the role of president of hockey operations and was replaced by Steve Tambellini.[98]

The 2008–09 season saw the Oilers finish with a record of 38–35–9, but that was only good enough for 11th in the West. However, one bright spot during the season was Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson, as he became the oldest goaltender to play 60 NHL games in one season.[99] After the season, the Oilers fired head coach Craig MacTavish and hired Pat Quinn as his replacement.[100]

Roloson left via free agency at the end of the season,[101] and the Oilers replaced him in goal with Nikolai Khabibulin.[102] The Oilers also worked out a trade with the Ottawa Senators for star right wing Dany Heatley, which would have seen Dustin Penner, Ladislav Smid and Andrew Cogliano go the other way, but Heatley refused a trade to Edmonton and was later acquired by San Jose.[103][104] Off-season moves failed to help the Oilers as they finished last in the NHL during 2009–10. It was also easily their worst season as an NHL team.

Following the season, Tom Renney replaced Quinn as the Oilers head coach.[105] The one advantage to such a bad season was that the Oilers were able to make the first pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The Oilers selected two-time Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy winner Taylor Hall from the Windsor Spitfires with their pick.[106] They used the off-season to begin the rebuild of the club around their young talent.[107] Patrick O'Sullivan was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Jim Vandermeer, Robert Nilsson was bought out of his contract and Oilers captain Ethan Moreau was placed on waivers and claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Along with these players, several others were allowed to enter free agency, including Mike Comrie, Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Ryan Potulny. Also during the off-season, radio announcer Rod Phillips announced his retirement. Phillips had been the Oilers' play-by-play announcer since 1973–74. Phillips would call ten specific games in 2010–11 before calling it quits.[108] The 2010–11 Oilers season would be documented in the series Oil Change.

The 2010–11 season would bring a new look to the Edmonton Oilers line-up, when Shawn Horcoff was selected to succeed Ethan Moreau as team captain. Horcoff had become the Oilers longest-serving player by this point.[109][110] Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson would all make their NHL debuts for the team. Despite the influx of their young talent, Edmonton would still find themselves at the bottom of the standings. In an attempt to gain valuable prospects and draft picks, Dustin Penner was traded from the Oilers to Los Angeles on February 28, 2011, in exchange for Colten Teubert, a first-round draft pick in 2011 (used to select Oscar Klefbom) and a conditional third-round pick in 2012.[111] At the end of the season, the Oilers were at the bottom of the standings and received the right to choose first overall in the upcoming 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The Oilers selected Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first overall selection, along with several other "blue chip" prospects. During the 2011 off-season, the team again made several moves to bolster the offence and defence, re-acquiring fan favourite Ryan Smyth from Los Angeles in exchange for Colin Fraser and a seventh-round draft pick.[112] The team also traded with the Anaheim Ducks to acquire Andy Sutton for Kurtis Foster. Sheldon Souray, who had played the entire 2010–11 season in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Hershey Bears, was bought out of the last year of his contract.[113] These moves, coupled with the signings of Eric Belanger, Cam Barker, Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk, changed the complexion of the team, to add "grit and toughness". However, the Oilers were again unable to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth-straight season, as they finished 14th in the Western Conference.

On May 17, 2012, a month after the ending of the 2011–12 season, the Oilers would announce they would not be renewing the contract of head coach Tom Renney.[114] The following month, Edmonton selected Nail Yakupov as the first overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.[115] A week later, Ralph Krueger was named as the Oilers' new head coach on June 27, being promoted from his role as associate coach the season previous.[116] Three days later, Edmonton announced they had agreed to terms with sought-after free agent defenceman Justin Schultz.[117][118]

The 2012–13 season start was delayed from its original date of October 11, 2012, due to a labour lock-out imposed by the NHL franchise owners after the expiration of the NHL's CBA. After a new labour agreement was reached between the owners and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), training camps opened on January 13, 2013, and a 48-game season (reduced from 82 games) commenced on January 19. The Oilers would play their first game of the shortened season a day later, on January 20.

On January 23, to ensure of the health of the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton and for the planned revitalization of downtown Edmonton, the City of Edmonton council voted 10–3 to the approval of a deal which would see a new $480 million arena built in Edmonton's downtown core for the start of the 2016–17 season. Rogers Communications announced it would have the naming rights to the new arena on December 3, 2013; the new 18,641-seat arena would be called Rogers Place.[119][120]

After 41 games into the shortened season, and with the Oilers mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for a seventh successive time, Edmonton terminated Steve Tambellini's contract as general manager, where he was replaced with former head coach Craig MacTavish.[121] Following the end of the season, on June 8, MacTavish fired Ralph Krueger after just one season as head coach.[122][123] Two days later, it was announced Krueger was to be replaced by former Toronto Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins.[124][125][126] Some of MacTavish's first player moves as Oilers' general manager came at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, as Edmonton would use their seventh overall selection to draft defenceman Darnell Nurse.[127] More moves came on July 5, during free agency, which saw MacTavish trade captain Shawn Horcoff to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Philip Larsen. MacTavish also signed Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, Jason LaBarbera, Will Acton, Ryan Hamilton and Jesse Joensuu.[128] Ference was later announced as the 14th captain in Oilers NHL franchise history, on September 29.[129] Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth, who after the Horcoff trade became the last remaining members of the Oilers' 2006 Stanley Cup finalists still with the team, departed the Oilers franchise, as Hemsky was traded to the Ottawa Senators on March 5, 2014.[130] Smyth (who had previously left the Oilers in 2007, but had returned in 2011) announced his retirement on April 11,[131] playing his final NHL game on April 13, where he was ceremoniously named team captain.[132]

On December 15, 2014, after 31 games of the 2014–15 season, MacTavish announced Dallas Eakins had been terminated as head coach. MacTavish assumed the role of interim coach while Todd Nelson transitioned into the role for the remainder of the season. Nelson was previously serving as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Barons, the Oilers' then-AHL affiliate.[133][134] Three days later, the Oilers released a statement, which would see their affiliation with the Barons cease operations at the end of the season.[135][136]

Following Edmonton's decision not to renew affiliation with the Barons, it was announced that the Oilers would be relocating their AHL franchise from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Bakersfield, California. This move was announced on January 29, 2015, as part of the AHL's new Pacific Division, which would include the Oilers affiliation in Bakersfield.[137] The following month, on February 25, the team was given its new identity, the Bakersfield Condors.[138] On April 2, the Condors released their new logo.[139]

Connor McDavid era (2015–present)

The Oilers won the 2015 Draft Lottery that took place on April 18, thus moving them from the third overall pick to first overall, marking their fourth lottery win in six seasons.[140] The Oilers used the pick to select Connor McDavid first overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft held in Sunrise, Florida, on June 26.

On April 24, Craig MacTavish was removed from his position as general manager and was replaced by former Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, who was also appointed president of hockey operations as part of other related changes.[141] On May 19, Todd McLellan was named the new head coach of the Oilers.[142] He and his former team, the San Jose Sharks, mutually agreed to part ways on April 20 after the Sharks failed to qualify for the 2015 playoffs.[143] More coaching changes came on June 4 when it was announced Keith Acton and Craig Ramsay had been relieved of their duties and would not be returning for the 2015–16 season.[144]

In addition to these coaching changes, the Oilers also made some changes to their scouting staff on June 22, which saw both head amateur and professional scouts Stu MacGregor and Morey Gare relieved of their duties. Amateur scouts Brad Davis and Kent Hawley, professional scout Dave Semenko and Billy Moores, who served as director of coaching and special projects, were also relieved of their duties.[145][146] Further changes came on October 7 when the Oilers elected to begin the 2015–16 season without a team captain; this marked the first time they had done so since entering the NHL, in 1979. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Andrew Ference, who had served as team captain the previous two seasons, were all named as alternate captains.[147]

Upon the conclusion of the 2015–16 season, the Oilers prepared to move from Rexall Place, their home since 1974, to the newly-built Rogers Place. On April 6, 2016, in their final home game at Rexall, the Oilers defeated the Vancouver Canucks 6–2.[148] Before the game, the Oilers held a ceremony honouring the history of the arena. Oilers' alumni, including Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky, skated around the rink one more time.

In a one-for-one trade on June 29, Edmonton dealt all-star winger Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenceman Adam Larsson.[149] On October 5, 19-year-old Connor McDavid was named the 15th captain of the Oilers; McDavid is currently the youngest named team captain in NHL history, having broken the record previously held by current Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog.[150]

On March 28, 2017, the Oilers made the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2006. In the first round of the 2017 playoffs, the Oilers eliminated San Jose following a 3–1 win in Game 6 to secure their first playoff series win in 11 years. Their playoff run was stopped on May 10, 2017, losing to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 with a 2–1 loss, ending the second round series.[151][152][153]

In April 2015, Peter Chiarelli was named president and general manager. In his first year as general manager, he traded first- and second-round picks to the New York Islanders in exchange for Griffin Reinhart. In 2016, the Oilers acquired a third-round draft pick in return for Justin Schultz, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.[154] In the 2017 off-season, the Oilers traded forward Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders in exchange for Ryan Strome to gain salary relief. The Oilers signed their captain Connor McDavid and forward Leon Draisaitl to 8-year contracts worth $100 million and $68 million, carrying annual cap hits of $12.5 million and $8.5 million, respectively. The Oilers had high expectations coming into the 2017–18 season, as many expected to make progress off of their surprising year in 2016–17. However, the Oilers regressed, posting a 36–40–6 record and missing the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 seasons. Free agent signings of note and term during Chiarelli's tenure included Mikko Koskinen, Milan Lucic, Benoit Pouliot and Kris Russell. On January 22, 2019, the Oilers terminated Chiarelli's employment as president and general manager;[155] Keith Gretzky was appointed interim general manager the following day, and served until the May 7, 2019 appointment of Ken Holland as general manager.[156] The Oilers missed the playoffs and have only qualified for the playoffs once in 13 seasons. On May 28, 2019 the Oilers named Dave Tippett as the team's new head coach.[157]

Team information


The original 1972 design featured the now-traditional colours of blue and orange, but reversed from their more familiar appearance in later seasons, orange being the dominant colour and blue used for the trimming. For the first few games of the 1972 season, player names were not displayed on the uniform; rather the word "ALBERTA" was written in that space. About halfway through the season, though, the player names made their appearance, since the Oilers had played exclusively in Edmonton.[158] These jerseys also featured the player numbers high on the shoulders, rather than on the upper sleeve as is standard.

In the 1975–76 season, the jersey was changed to a blue base with orange trim. The logo that appeared on programs and promotional material remained the same. However, the logo that appeared on the home jersey had a white oil drop, on a dark orange field, with the team name written in deep blue. The away jersey featured an orange-printed logo.

When the team joined the NHL in 1979, the alternate logos were discarded, giving the jersey its most famous form. However, the logo appeared slightly differently on a few vintages of the jersey. Minor changes were also made to the numbering, lettering and collar in their first few NHL campaigns. From 1982 to 1989, Nike provided the Oilers' sweaters.

The essential design remained untouched until 1996, when the team colours were changed to midnight blue and copper with red trim. Other changes made to the jersey at that point were the removal of the shoulder bar and cuffs from the away jersey, and the addition of the "Rigger" alternate logo to the jersey's shoulders. A year later, the shoulder bars were removed from the home jersey as well, and the Oilers' sweater design then remained stable until 2007.

In 2001, the Oilers introduced their first alternate third sweater. Designed by then-minority owner Todd McFarlane and his production studio, the new uniforms were a radical departure from previous Oilers designs. The original Oilers logo was completely absent, along with copper and red; midnight blue was complemented with two shades of silver/grey, and the primary logo was a flying set of gears with an oil drop on top. Elements of the logo paid tribute to the five Stanley Cup titles and ten team captains to that point. A silver shield bearing "OILERS" above a variation of the oil-drop gear adorned the shoulders.[159][160] The jersey's sleeve numbers are located inside the white sleeve stripe.

The Oilers' former primary (left) and alternate (right) logos. The one on the left was used in some capacity from 1996 to 2012, while the logo on the right was used from 2001 to 2007.

In 2007, with the NHL's switch to Reebok Edge jerseys, the Oilers kept their team colours but changed the style of their jerseys. Most notable about the Edge jerseys were the removal of the waistline stripes in favour of vertical piping, and the sleeve stripes only appearing on the inside of the elbow panels. The "Rigger" was retired, along with the McFarlane third jersey and its associated logos. In 2008, the Oilers introduced a new alternate jersey that closely resembled the blue-and-orange away jersey of the dynasty era. For the 2009–10 season, this jersey became the Oilers' main home jersey as blue and orange became the primary team colours once again. The old midnight blue-and-copper jersey became their alternate. On June 24, 2011, the Oilers presented their new white road jerseys at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, when they selected Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall.[161] The midnight blue jersey remained as the third jersey before being dropped altogether in 2012.

For the 2015–16 season, the team introduced a new alternate jersey inspired by their original WHA design, with orange as a primary colour. With the switch to Adidas jerseys in the 2017–18 season, the orange jersey became the Oilers' home design, but with a few alterations: the 1980s-era template was retained while midnight blue returned as an accent colour.[162][163]

To commemorate the franchise's 40th anniversary in the NHL, the Oilers wore their classic 1980s blue jerseys for four home games in 2018–19 against original Smythe Division rivals Los Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks.[164] Prior to the 2019–20 season, the Oilers unveiled a new midnight blue alternate jersey with minimal striping and lack of white elements.[165]


The Oilers mascot is a Canadian lynx named Hunter who was unveiled on September 26, 2016. The choosing of the Canadian lynx was because their largest place of habitat, in terms of population, is Alberta. It was also because it was the largest vote overall. The name gives tribute to the original Oilers owner, William "Wild Bill" Hunter. Hunter wears the number 72 on its jersey, referencing the year the Oilers were established, which was in 1972.[166] Hunter has a portable drum, in which he uses to entertain the crowds and make them chant "Let's Go Oilers!", along with a rhythmic beat.

Oilers Octane

During the 2010–11 season, the Oilers introduced the Oilers Octane, the first cheerleading squad for a Canadian NHL team. The Oilers Octane consisted of 19 women aged 18 to 29, most of whom were from the greater Edmonton area (within neighbouring suburbs), or the province of Alberta.[167] In addition to performing cheers at Oilers home games, helping with promotions and interacting with fans, the Octane members participated in charity fund raising and special events.[168]

The cheer team was, initially, not greeted with enthusiasm by all fans. Over 1,500 people signed an online petition against it, suggesting the women did not improve the game experience and might in fact hinder it. Many felt the cheer team was a cheap public relations stunt and considered it both disrespectful to women and completely unrelated to hockey.[169]

In August 2016, the team announced they were discontinuing the Octane cheer team as they moved to Rogers Place, as well as announcing auditions for a new Oilers Orange and Blue Ice Crew "brand ambassador' group.[170]

Season-by-season record

This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Oilers. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Edmonton Oilers seasons

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses/Shootout Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

2014–1582244414621982836th, PacificDid not qualify
2015–168231438702032457th, PacificDid not qualify
2016–1782472691032472122nd, PacificLost in Second Round, 3–4 (Ducks)
2017–188236406782342636th, PacificDid not qualify
2018–198235389792322747th, PacificDid not qualify


Current roster

Updated December 9, 2019.[171][172]

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace
15 Josh Archibald RW R 27 2019 Regina, Saskatchewan
74 Ethan Bear D R 22 2015 Regina, Saskatchewan
83 Matt Benning  D R 25 2016 Edmonton, Alberta
28 Kyle Brodziak  C R 35 2018 St. Paul, Alberta
39 Alex Chiasson RW R 29 2018 Montreal, Quebec
29 Leon Draisaitl (A) C L 24 2014 Cologne, Germany
89 Sam Gagner C R 30 2019 London, Ontario
60 Markus Granlund C L 26 2019 Oulu, Finland
91 Gaetan Haas C R 27 2019 Bonfol, Switzerland
82 Caleb Jones D L 22 2015 Arlington, Texas
44 Zack Kassian RW R 28 2015 Windsor, Ontario
16 Jujhar Khaira LW L 25 2012 Surrey, British Columbia
77 Oscar Klefbom D L 26 2011 Karlstad, Sweden
19 Mikko Koskinen G L 31 2018 Vantaa, Finland
6 Adam Larsson (A) D R 27 2016 Skelleftea, Sweden
26 Brandon Manning D L 29 2018 Prince George, British Columbia
97 Connor McDavid (C) C L 22 2015 Richmond Hill, Ontario
18 James Neal LW L 32 2019 Whitby, Ontario
93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (A) C L 26 2011 Burnaby, British Columbia
25 Darnell Nurse (A) D L 24 2013 Hamilton, Ontario
10 Joakim Nygard LW L 26 2019 Stockholm, Sweden
4 Kris Russell D L 32 2016 Red Deer, Alberta
52 Patrick Russell RW R 26 2016 Birkerod, Denmark
23 Riley Sheahan C L 28 2019 St. Catharines, Ontario
41 Mike Smith G L 37 2019 Kingston, Ontario

Retired numbers

Edmonton Oilers retired numbers
No. Player Position Career No. retirement
3Al HamiltonD1972–1980October 10, 1980 1
7Paul CoffeyD1980–1987October 18, 2005
9Glenn AndersonRW1980–1991
January 18, 2009
11Mark MessierLW1979–1991February 27, 2007
17Jari KurriRW1980–1990October 6, 2001
31Grant FuhrG1981–1991October 9, 2003
99 2Wayne GretzkyC1978–1988October 1, 1999


  • 1 Jersey ceremony held April 4, 2001.
  • 2 Gretzky's #99 was retired League-wide by the NHL on February 6, 2000.[173]

Hall of Famers

The Oilers are affiliated with a number of inductees in the Hockey Hall of Fame (ten players and four builders).

Broadcaster Rod Phillips was awarded the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.


Team captains

Note: This list includes the Oilers' captains from both the NHL and WHA.

* Ryan Smyth was named captain for his final NHL game

Head coaches

Note: This list includes coaches from the WHA.

Franchise records

Scoring leaders

These are the top-ten point, goal, and assist scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game

  •  *  – current Oilers player

Note: This list includes WHA statistics.

Single-season leaders

Items marked in bold are NHL records.

NHL awards and trophies

All-Star Game selections

Home arenas


Television rights to all Edmonton Oilers games are held by Rogers Media. This includes all regional telecasts, which are carried by Sportsnet West and the overflow channel Sportsnet Oilers, as well as nationally televised games on Sportsnet or Hockey Night in Canada—which may either be broadcast by CBC Television, Citytv, or Sportsnet. The team's broadcast region is shared with the Calgary Flames, and includes all of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Most Oilers games are commentated by Kevin Quinn and Louie DeBrusk, joined by reporter Gene Principe.

On radio, the games are aired on CHED called by Jack Michaels and Bob Stauffer and Reid Wilkins as reporter.

See also



  • "Edmonton Oilers All-Time (All Skaters) Statistics". National Hockey League.
  • "Edmonton Oilers All-Time Single Season (All Skaters) Statistics". National Hockey League.
  • "Edmonton Oilers All-Time Single Season (defenceman) Statistics". National Hockey League.
  • "Edmonton Oilers All-Time Single Season (goaltenders) Statistics". National Hockey League.


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  122. Ralph Krueger relieved of duties as head coach
  123. Oilers coach Ralph Krueger says he was fired over Skype
  124. Oilers name Dallas Eakins new head coach
  125. Oilers introduce Dallas Eakins as 12th head coach in club history
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  130. Hemsky reflects on trade and Edmonton
  131. Ryan Smyth set to play final National Hockey League game
  132. Ference talks about giving Smyth the 'C'
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  138. Bakersfield to remain as Condors
  139. Condors unveil new logo
  140. Oilers win NHL Draft lottery
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  142. Oilers Name Todd McLellan Head Coach
  143. Sharks, McLellan mutually agree to part ways
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  145. Oilers Announce Changes to Hockey Operations and Scouting Staff
  146. Chiarelli comments on staff changes
  147. Oilers name four alternate captains for 2015-16 season
  148. Oilers exit Rexall Place with win against Canucks
  149. Oilers trade Hall to Devils for Larsson
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